Years ago when the Indian population did not have any concerns about being over-weight, people from my part of India used to take great pride in the fact that they had access to milk of a water buffalo. Back then milk was precious commodity in a place like India where there was widespread poverty and consequently a perpetual shortage of food. Buffalo milk (which has a much higher content of fat than cow’s milk) was therefore the preferred kind of milk – because it was creamy, sweet tasting and with a high fat and protein content. Of course in the western world not very many people have heard of domestic water buffaloes and so buffalo milk is completely unheard of. Given this background, I was quite surprised to learn that for centuries Italians have been using buffalo milk to make cheese. No one quite knows how or when the water buffalo was introduced to Italy and there are many theories to explain their existence in the Italian countryside but none has been proven beyond all doubt. In any case where and how they came from is irrelevant now – the Italians produce a lot of buffalo milk and most of it used to make Mozzarella di Bufala (Mozzarella made from Buffalo milk). Campana is a region of Italy that has even trademarked its Mozzarella as “Mozzarella di Bufala Campana”!
I love fresh Mozzarella cheese (actually I can’t think of any cheese I don’t like) and during the hot humid summer days of Washington DC, I often use it with fresh tomatoes and basil from my backyard to make a cool light salad. However, most of the mozzarella available in the US is domestic mozzarella that is produced from cow’s milk, which is good but not as good as the genuine Italian kind. So, imagine my surprise this morning when I found Italian Mozzarella di Bufala at my local Costco!!! What a treasure indeed – I promptly bought a container and drove home at break-neck speed to make a tomato mozzarella salad for lunch. What can I say – simple things make me happy – especially anything connected to food! And of course, if the food is brightly colored, fresh and tastes good and I don’t have to spend any time cooking it – my day is totally made!
1. Two balls of Mozzarella di Bufala
2. 15-20 multi-colored sweet grape tomatoes
3. 6 multi colored sweet Italian peppers
4. 10-15 fresh basil leaves
5. 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
6. 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
7. Salt to taste (sea salt is the best for this recipe)
8. 1.5-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
9. 2 teaspoons of sugar
1. Wash the tomatoes, peppers and basil leaves in cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel.
2. Chop the tomatoes in halves and place them in a large bowl.
3. Slice the peppers (remove any seeds or stems) in bit sized pieces and place them in the bowl
10. Slice the basil leaves in thin strips (chiffonade) and place them in the bowl.